Today I would like to answer a question that was asked of me some months ago. At that time I was not yet prepared to discuss what, to me, was still a highly sensitive matter.
An inquiring young mind wanted to know how I managed to stay conscious after being shot, how I was able to walk into the emergency room, being in such great pain?
How could I have revealed at that time so soon after the incident, what it took to deal with the enormity of the trauma I faced that night when I was just inches away from the receiving end of a gun?
How could I share my innermost thoughts even as I struggled to recall those minutes before that terrifying moment?
I still wrestle internally as I try to bring to the forefront of my memory the exact sequence of events. I invariably hit a brick wall.
The most I recall is realizing, without knowing how I realized, that something was wrong. Then I looked to my left and saw a shadow. I do not know if the person was a man or woman, boy or girl, adult or child.
It could have been someone of medium height or shorter; definitely slim built, I think (see how unclear the details are still). As for race, I could not tell; clothes, either it did not register or I did not see.
What I clearly remember was my brain screaming that something terrible was about to unfold. There was no clue that it would be a gun being fired directly at me.
I remember thinking I had to move because the person was going to hit the car window to try to break it. I remember the loud crash as the window did break…and I remember the swirling thoughts that flooded my highly traumatized brain.
The feeling on my face I will never forget. The immediate stench of fresh blood and its voluminous flow are deeply embedded in my senses. The sensation of no lower face, a gaping hole where my chin should have been, how does one ever forget?
One can move forward, charging at full speed, with renewed vigour to fulfil one’s purpose; but forgetting is another matter.
How can I forget the cold tendrils of death stroking me, wooing me into its peaceful sanctuary? Or what about the deathly chills, the unstoppable shaking when I briefly contemplated not resisting death’s siren?
The best I can describe how I think about that night is to draw an analogy with an electrical source. When there is a surge of power, the system shuts down until “normal” power is restored.
The titanic force of that incident pushed my brain into overload; my whole system began to shut down. God alone knows how I struggled to keep from letting the system stay down. God alone knows.
To tell my struggle, to relate the extent of the trauma is still too much for me to do, even thirty months after. I thought I could do it. I set about to do it. I wish I could tell it like it is… but it is just too much.
I have learnt to deal with it. I have displayed levels of resilience of which I was not even aware. But I cannot yet reveal the true extent of the damage incurred by this incident.
Stark raving mad: perhaps these words would have to be used to describe me if I allow myself to recall and relate the emotions, the sensations and the deeper thoughts associated with that defining moment in my life!